The little area of grass I was on was inundated with sea water. It was not from the earlier rain; this had all dried up. The little swell there was allowed waves to cross the low footpath and saturate the grass. I spotted more and more of these damp patches as I walked up this side of the island. Sea level rise is happening right now. The Maldivians in their planning have tried not to close off the whole island from the sea, but at this gap in the defences the land was suffering the consequences. No storm, no high wind, the waves easily intruded into the city.
As if to reinforce the reminder that the Maldives are constantly guarded against the ocean’s might, I saw a tall funnel shaped statue on the south east corner of the island. The inscription told me it was the memorial to the 2004 tsunami. It was over 2500km from the epicentre of the earthquake that triggered the huge wave, but with little in the way, the islands were hit badly. Eighty-eight people died as a result of the tsunami. I looked again at the pools in the park; if that was what could happen from small sprays of waves, how much damage could happen if another tsunami hit. I started to ask myself whether it was all worth it. The inevitability is that sea level will continue to rise for the next few generations and it may mean that most of the Maldives is uninhabitable. Salt water intrusion onto the land would kill off all the vegetation, it would turn the freshwater lenses saline, it would erode away the land and everything on it. Even if it were tolerable when the weather was kind, the storms and heavy seas that always happen could seriously impede normal lives, and each time make more too worn out to fight back, and erode the capacity of the nation to bounce back. Why bother?